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Utility claims no money given to polygamous church — at least since 2013

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Posted at 5:23 PM, May 21, 2015
and last updated 2015-05-22 10:18:57-04

SALT LAKE CITY — In new court filings, lawyers for a utility company in the polygamous border towns of Hildale, Utah and Colorado City, Ariz., insist no money has been handed over to the Fundamentalist LDS Church — at least since 2013.

In a filing this week in Salt Lake City’s 3rd District Court, attorneys for Twin City Water Works are pushing back against a request to have the water utility taken over.

“There is no imminent danger of loss of property, TCWW is not insolvent or in imminent danger of insolvency, and TCWW has renewed its corporate status with the State of Utah,” utility lawyer Jay Zweig wrote in the documents obtained by FOX 13.

Among the allegations made by the U.S. Justice Department, the court-controlled United Effort Plan Trust and the Utah Attorney General’s Office, TCWW was acting as a “slush fund” for FLDS leaders and imprisoned polygamist leader Warren Jeffs. The state is asking a judge to take control of the utility, citing an accountant’s report that claims as much as $2 million has been funneled to the church.

The lawyers for TCWW attached a declaration filed by clerk Sarah Olds, who said that since she started there in September 2013, the utility has had no problems paying its bills.

“During the time that I have been overseeing TCWW’s books, there have been no improper payments to third parties, no payments to the FLDS Church, and no unusual disbersements,” Olds declared.

Read the declaration of Sarah Olds here:

In 2010, FOX 13 reported then-Utah attorney general Mark Shurtleff had claimed he ordered an investigation into TCWW. Earlier this year, Utah Attorney General Sean Reyes’ office said investigators had determined there was not enough evidence to bring a case.

The UEP Trust, which controls most of the homes and property in Hildale and Colorado City, was taken over by the courts in 2005 over allegations of mismanagement by Jeffs and other FLDS leaders. Faithful members of the polygamous church have refused to cooperate. Recently, a mysterious “tent city” has sprung up as speculation has grown that church members would abandon their homes rather than pay taxes or sign occupancy agreements with the trust’s court-appointed fiduciary.

Jeffs is serving a life, plus 20-year sentence in Texas for child sex assault related to underage “marriages.”